TX vs. CA

Unemployment Line - DepressionFeb. 12, 2013

By John Seiler

I’ve been to Texas two times. In the summer of 1969 I was 14 and my family took a trip from Michigan to the Southern states. We had been West, including to California in 1964.

I remember the Lone Star weather was hot and humid, but not too bad. We played miniature golf in Dallas. In Houston, we went to the Astrodome and watched an Astros baseball game. I kept the ticket for a long time but lost it. In Houston, we also saw where the Apollo 11 astronauts were being kept in quarantine.

The second time was in 1979 when I was in the U.S. Army. I was sent to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo in West Texas from around May 5 to July 20 to learn to intercept Russian radio messages. It was hideously hot and hideously humid, especially because the base was mostly concrete. We sat on our barracks porch drinking beer and watching the thunderstorms roll in from the West.

So I sympathize with Gov. Jerry Brown when he said, in response to the taunting of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for businesses to move to the Lone Star State, “A lot of these Texans, they come here, they don’t go back. Who would want to spend their summers in 110-degree heat inside some kind of a fossil-fueled air conditioner? Not a smart way to go.”



But: How about if you need a job? Brown is the son of privilege. His father was governor. He inherited millions. He doesn’t know what it’s like to wonder where your next paycheck is going to come from — how you’re going to feed your kids.

When I got out of the Army on Feb. 16, 1982, almost 31 years ago, I went back to my home state of Michigan. Unemployment was 16 percent. I drove my old 1970 Buick LeSabre around for weeks looking for a job. Nothing. Unemployment above 15 percent is considered depression-level.

Eventually, I got an internship at the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. and got back into the writing business. I never returned to Michigan except to visit, even though the weather there is better than in D.C., which is a swamp, and the living was a lot cheaper. In 1987, the Orange County Register hired me and I came to California.

You go where the jobs are, regardless of the weather. Currently in California, Fresno — which doesn’t have that great weather being inland — has 13.5 percent unemployment. Los Angeles has 10.9 percent. San Bernardino has 14.8 percent. In Oakland, where Brown was mayor for eight years, it’s 12.9 percent.

By contrast, San Angelo has 4.6 percent. Houston has 4.9 percent. Dallas has 6.3 percent.

The weather only takes you so far, which is why people live in Alaska.

Unless you have a cushy government job like Brown, you go where the jobs are.

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